Also, a must-see if looking for movies about Japanese culture in general. You can also contact us at +1-619-272-6978 or travel [at] boutiquejapan [dot com]. Of course, this is only a small sampling, and there are countless other things we love about Japan, from traditional ryokans with onsen (hot springs) in the countryside, to the lack of tipping, Japan’s famously fantastic toilets, and so much more. Tea ceremonies are a common part of Japanese culture. Japan is a land of wonders and surprises at every step. These are 34 Japan travel tips to help you make the best out of your stay! At the time I couldn’t afford the bullet train, so I took an overnight bus from Tokyo. A US-educated Japanese professor once noted that a survey of Japan citizens revealed that 80% are Shintoists and 70% are Buddhists, which account for 150%! The average delay on the Tōkaidō Shinkansen, the most heavily traveled high-speed rail line in the world, is about half a minute. Japanese people never fail to move me with their kindness and, most of all, thoughtfulness and consideration. While I love the US dearly – and also love traveling in parts of the world where things don’t run nearly as well as they do in Japan – whenever I land in Japan it’s a huge relief (and pleasure) to know that pretty much everything is going to work beautifully. The level of love and respect that goes into food preparation in Japan is nothing short of awe-inspiring. From out of nowhere he unveiled a spare umbrella, and compelled me to take it. How to move around efficiently. 19. The Japanese business culture values an employee who naps on the job. It’s here that the idea of forest bathing or shinrin-yoku came about. There are over 100,000 shrines and 80,000 temples in Japan, and Buddhism and Shintoism—along with many other faiths—coexist peacefully. If you wake up very early on a weekend morning and head to the iconic Shibuya crossing, you may come across an army of locals cleaning up the previous night’s detritus. It shows the growing differences in Japanese culture between the old and the young. That case is a difficult point for Westerners in Japan, who usually have to taught to be polite by refusing accommodations that inconvenience others. It teaches us to be fully present in the moment, to be humble and to always strive to improve. Not having to worry about things like this is surprisingly relaxing. “Inemuri,” as it is known, is a quick cat-nap meant to recharge the batteries. – Do not use large hand gestures, unusual facial expressions or dramatic movements. At this point — thanks to Jiro’s fame, and countless celebrity chefs having extolled their obsession with Japanese cuisine — it is widely known that Japan has some of the best, if not the best, food on earth. Hanami basically describes appreciating the beauty of nature and the seasons, and many people like to host a picnic in the park under the sakura. Going for a nice long soak at the onsen or sento has numerous health benefits as well, from relieving stress to alleviating medical conditions, depending on the type of water used. Western whiskeys are popular, same as beer is the traditional spirit of Japan. The idea is to enjoy the short lived cherry blossom bloom while it lasts, and the Japanese do there best to take full advantage of it. And it’s in no way limited to high-end or fine dining. Experiences like this first led me to fall in love with Japan, and thrill me to this day, even after all these years. It is common to have your sake poured so that it flows into a saucer beneath the cup. Its safety is a major reason Japan is such a family-friendly destination, as is the fact that it’s such a surprisingly easy country to navigate, which brings me to…. In 1639, the shogunate rulers began a policy of isolation which kept out almost all ships from the western world. On my very first visit to Japan, I arrived in Tokyo on a stormy August night. To be fair, most people in most countries would probably love to help you, but there’s no denying that in some countries a few people make a living by taking advantage of unsuspecting tourists. One can go for up to $400. Temples and shrines bring communities together While Japan is mainly a secular society, the country’s As I described above, Japanese people are among the kindest and most helpful people with whom I have ever interacted, and once you have traveled around Japan chances are you will agree that the honesty and kindness of the local people is a huge factor in what makes Japan such a wonderful place to visit. Whether you’re going for a simple, casual meal — or splurging on an exquisite once-in-a-lifetime meal at the counter of a shokunin (master) — you can almost always count on thoughtful and considerate service, and painstakingly prepared food. Another common concern while traveling in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language is the fear of being taken advantage of. Granted, Japan is not the only country where things almost always work as they should (Germany, Switzerland, and Singapore are also great examples of highly efficient countries), but it’s far and away one of the most impressive, particularly considering its size. Indeed, it’s not just Japanese cuisine like sushi and ramen that shines in Japan. Different people think of different things when mentioning Japan or Japanese culture. – Laughterwill normally indicate embarrassment or distress… If you like cleanliness and organization, prepare to love traveling around Japan, where people take great pride in taking loving care of their surroundings. When the Japanese visit other countries on tours, the tour company educates the group about local manners and customs on the way. She didn’t realize until later (and hadn’t noted any details about the taxi in which she left it), but — very thankfully — the taxi driver spent hours researching how to find her, and through the local police department my friend and her passport were reunited soon after. 6. The trains run on time, drivers arrive on time or early, and nearly everywhere you go efficiency and order reign. (Read my story.). Japan is the 10th most populous country in the world with a population of over 127 million people.. Japan has over 100 active volcanoes with over 70% of the country being mountainous.. Melons are very expensive in Japan. “Do you have an umbrella?” he asked. One of the things you will notice when traveling to Japan is the huge amount of vending machines. The ceremony is a microcosm of traditional Japanese aesthetics and ideals, making it one of the best ways to experience Japanese culture. Apart from its amazing record of safety (zero fatalities since its inception in 1964), one of the shinkansen conductor’s responsibilities is to depart and arrive within 15 seconds of the scheduled time – and, as you might expect, their success rate is astronomically high. I had a whirlwind adventure over several weeks, and am right now in as opposite a culture as I can imagine, in Texas (to launch my book Fluent in 3 months when it gets published in just a few days!. Baths and hot springs alike are viewed as a relaxation tool rather than a way to get clean. On the whole, Japan is so safe that it’s commonplace to hear stories from travelers of lost items returned unharmed. Learn how to behave on certain occasions and to respect the local Japanese culture. Public transportation is super efficient. They’re simply doing their job. How is that so? During the cherry blossom season – the duration of which varies from year to year – the streets along the canal exist in an almost-constant state of celebration. The Japanese are known for their expertise in various fields, and their example sets a high bar for the rest of us. Planning to stay a year, I ended up staying several, and now spend several months of every year traveling through Japan. Sake, a wine made from fermented rice is considered a traditional alcoholic drink here. Similarly, an overnight guest is offered the best sleeping arrangements even if it greatly inconveniences the rest of the family. This article list 25 interesting facts about Japan and its culture that you might not be aware of. Kaiseki is Japan’s fine, elevated cuisine and the specialty of the country’s cultural capital, Kyoto. Nothing appears to be more tragic than dying alone—but it … Things to know about Japanese culture – The Japanese nation is a nation that is very polite and courteous, so the ethics are an integral part of daily life. I never planned on dedicating my life to Japan. Tokyo is full of wonderful depachika (department store food halls), and Shibuya’s offerings are no exception. This is certainly not to say that crime in Japan doesn’t exist. One of the best Japanese drama movies and a great movie about Japanese history in Tokyo after WW2. https://japanology.org/2019/04/20-facts-on-japanese-culture ... the Japanese head out of the house for Ohanami, or flower sightseeing. I had one friend accidentally leave a very expensive camera on the Tokyo Metro, which he successfully recovered by contacting the Metro’s lost and found. I wandered the colorful aisles, admiring the impeccable displays of tantalizing sweet and savory specialties. 5 Interesting Facts About Japanese Culture That You Probably Don't Know. Almost without fail, when friends from the United States return to the US after visiting Japan, I receive exclamatory messages of relative shock bemoaning the rundown airport, the inefficiency of the immigration and customs process, the poor condition — or lack — of public transport options (the bullet train spoils people), and the generally disheveled appearance of their post-Japan trip surroundings. This formal yet stylised custom is taken quite seriously. Thinking of using the Japan Rail Pass during your Japan trip? To explain what I feel are the best things about Japan, I’ll begin with a brief story from an early spring day in Tokyo. A number of schools and colleges offer students training and preparation for careers in performance and art. The majestic cherry blossom trees sway luxuriously sway over the canal, and small groups of friends gather to eat and drink amid the sea of pink. Throughout Japan, age-old traditions remain alive in contemporary culture, and while many travelers are drawn primarily to the romance of ancient Japan, for many others (ourselves included) contemporary Japan is just as fascinating. The staff aren’t being polite and attentive in hopes that you’ll give them a good tip (there’s no tipping culture in Japan), and there’s no need to thank them at the end of a transaction. Over the years, our clients have told us they’ve fallen in love with Japan for the very same reasons – so without further ado, I’m thrilled to share a few of my absolute favorite things about Japan. The first thing to do when you get to Japan is to have authentic Ramen at a good outlet. Having picked up some lovely seasonal items, along with a bottle of sake from snowy Niigata Prefecture, I began walking towards the charming Naka-Meguro neighborhood. The more you explore about it, the interesting it gets. The Ministry of Education is protective of Japan’s great works of art which include paintings, sculptures and architecture. One of the best things about Japan – and an unexpected highlight for so many travelers – is how beautifully and efficiently everything works. Almost without fail, when friends from the United States return to the US aftervisiting Japan, I receive ex… Traditional Tea Ceremonies. Hanami or flower gazing is a national pastime in Japan, and it has been going on since the Heian Period. Japan has been inhabited since 30,000 BC . It’s a slow movie, but the acting and general ambience make it worth the watch. Trains are expected to be so punctual that if a train is five minutes late, the railway company may issue official delay certificates, to provide proof for employers and appointments. The Japanese population, half that of the US, lives in an area smaller than California. Granted, Japan is not the only country where things almost always work as they should (Germany, Switzerland, and Singapore are also great examples of highly efficient countries), but it’s far and away one of the most impressive, particularly considering its size. Some talk about ancient Samurai warriors with their swords, while others feel fascinated by the pictures of a Geisha, serving sushi to customers. It’s no surprise that many Francophiles have fallen in love with Japan, as best put in the Food & Wine article, “7 Reasons Why Tokyo Is the New Paris.” Apart from being delicious, Japanese food is on the whole extremely healthy, and incredibly diverse. Japanese culinary professionals are so passionate about their craft, and Japanese ingredients are so good, that you will find some of the world’s best pastries, pizzas, curries, cocktails, coffee, and more! Before walking to meet my friends, I visited a shopping area nearby. We joined hundreds of other revelers in relaxing with friends and family on this perfect Saturday, eating and drinking under the sakura. While tea ceremonies are organized according to traditional conventions and aesthetics, it’s a process that can never be perfected, so practitioners are always trying to improve their technique. I had my first experience of punctuality in Japan during my first visit to Kyoto. It permeates every aspect of life in Japan, and even short-term visitors come away with an overwhelming sense that respect — both given and received — is huge part of the Japanese experience. It’s a place where quality is prized above quantity, and variety is the spice of life. The Japanese do not talk with their hands. An experienced host will guide you through each step, as you sample a traditional sweet and one or more kinds of tea. The Japanese tea ceremony is the art of preparing, serving and appreciating tea. The good news is that there is no need to choose one or the other, as you will experience Japan’s rich and complex traditional and modern culture throughout the country (see a sampling of our favorite places throughout Japan)! They always include a line that says that tourists represent Japan and should try their hardest to leave a good impressive. – The American ‘OK’ sign (thumb and forefinger shaped like an ‘O’) means ‘money’ in Japan. Never pat a Japanese man on the back or shoulder. It seems silly now, but I continue to be amazed that, even in a densely populated metropolis like Tokyo, litter can be so rare – especially considering the noticeable lack of trash cans (a perennial pet peeve of travelers to Japan). Take note though, that some of these establishments have a … I have one friend who had her wallet stolen while on a crowded subway in Tokyo, and you can read reports in the news of other crime in Tokyo and beyond. And walk almost anywhere in any Japanese city, town or village, and you’ll see local people tidying up the streets around their homes and places of business. I once had the chance to ride with the conductor of a shinkansen (bullet train) as part of a Japanese television program. From cheap neighborhood noodle shops to Michelin-starred and other top restaurants, the quality and taste of food in Japan is of an incredibly high standard. These ceremonies have been greatly influenced by Buddhist practices and the event can be likened to a meditative experience.Japanese tea ceremonies possess deep meaning to the country and those who are invited should feel quite honoured. What to order in restaurants. I’ll never forget, a few weeks after I first moved to Japan, one day I spotted some litter in a park and found it so noteworthy that I felt impelled to photograph it. Japanese people’s attention to and passion for detail — and profound passion for doing things well — permeates every aspect of life in Japan. Having moved from the United States (New York City no less) to Japan, it took me a few weeks to adjust to the wonderful fact that, unlike in the US, I didn’t need to constantly have my guard up. They’re literally everywhere, around every corner, and they’re definitely part of the modern Japanese culture. Japanese Gardens. Use 7-Bank. Japan’s art, architecture, design, film, dance, and crafts — not to mention pop culture (including anime, manga, and video games — are reason enough to visit Japan, and are today as much a part of the “real” Japan as its traditional culture. In such a country, it’s little surprise that a key function of police officers, stationed in their ever-present koban (police boxes) in cities around the country, is to provide directions to lost tourists and locals alike (the Economist reports on Japanese police searching for things to do). Worshipping of these two religions is commonly practiced in Japan. This pride in caring for surroundings is contagious, and chances are you’ll find yourself doing your part to keep Japan clean for others, too! The most popular time for hanami is spring when the sakura blossoms. The Japanese are very particular about their food and considerate it to be very important, and Ramen sits on top of their most prized food list. I wasn’t that surprised when we left right on time, but I was amazed when we pulled into Kyoto precisely on time, to the minute. After the flight and a train ride from the airport into the city, I hopped into a taxi from the station for the last leg of my journey. This slightly paranoid worry often prevents travelers from asking strangers for assistance, and also has the unfortunate side effect of preventing travelers from more immersive and unscripted interactions with local people. We reached our destination and I paid the white-gloved taxi driver. Japanese trains are among the most punctual in the world. | Contact & Business Hours | Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy | CST 2114860-40, a city much larger and more populous than New York, kids can walk and take the subway by themselves to school, Japanese police searching for things to do, Japan is such a family-friendly destination, Planning a Trip to Japan in the Time of Covid, Japan’s Best Boutique and Luxury Hotels & Ryokans. Not realizing that taxi doors open automatically in Japan, I committed my first etiquette faux pas – a very common one indeed, and typically laughed at. And yet, to a remarkable degree, it’s true. We hope you have a chance to experience all of this during your trip to Japan! Whether you’re planning a trip, or just daydreaming for the moment, we’ve compiled essential information about traveling to Japan in…, The best hotels and ryokans in Japan range from charming traditional inns in the countryside, to stylish design hotels and…, Japan has more matsuri (festivals) than almost any other country in the world, and Japanese festivals – in all their…. In case you are planning a trip to Japan or would just like to increase your knowledge about Japanese culture and customs, here's a glimpse into the amazing world where traditional culture and … I first moved from New York City to Tokyo with a desire to master the Japanese language. There are no rules when it comes to kaiseki, but it’s meant to be a feast for all five senses. But considering the number of people, the clean and tidy state of the streets is almost miraculous. Not that long ago, visiting the public baths or sento used to be a daily part of life for people living in Japan, and today, you never have to go far to find one. It is common to see two religious altars in Japanese homes: one is called Kamidana (Shintoism) and the other B… The winter chill had just begun to give way to the first tinges of spring warmth, and I got off the train at Shibuya Station. – Do not grab your host’s hand when first meeting and give it a hearty shake – many Japanese seldom shake hands and can be so uncomfortable doing so as to avoid meeting again! And few countries (India comes to mind) can match Japan for its wealth of traditional ceremonies and festivals. Thus, it’s little surprise that Japan is home to so many highly-skilled chefs (see above), craftspeople, and a remarkable service culture – not to mention being one of the cleanest and tidiest countries on earth! The culture of Japan has changed greatly over the millennia, from the country's prehistoric Jōmon Period, to its contemporary modern culture, which absorbs influences from Asia and other regions of the world.. Japan's indigenous culture originates primarily from the Yayoi people who settled in Japan between 1000 BCE and 300 CE. And many other practicalities of the modern traveler to Nippon. Take a Close Look at Japanese Culture and its Intriguing Customs. Kodokushi. https://bucketlistjourney.net/japanese-culture-tradition-facts Japan’s service industry is arguably the best in the world. I told him I did not, but since I only had a few steps to walk, told him I was OK. I found my friends under the trees with all the requisite hanami supplies: tarp, grill, beer, snacks, guitar. But, thankfully, crime rates are far lower in Japan than in almost anywhere else on earth (it’s one of, if not the safest large countries in the world), and you can tangibly sense it after spending a bit of time here. From the health benefits of, The world has a lot to learn from Japan | © Yuki Yoshida / Unsplash, Torii mark the entrance to Shinto shrines, Kaiseki is meant to appeal to all five senses, Japanese gardens are a way to appreciate nature, Japan’s service industry is the best in the world. https://questionjapan.com/blog/things-to-do/japanese-culture-facts Although they do not expect people abroad to follow their habit entirely, the attempt to follow the manners of Japan would be greatly appreciated. And thus, with his kindness, the first Japanese person I ever met in Japan had set a tone that would continue to this very day. This is not to say that there is no litter, and in particularly crowded areas — for example, Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Ueno — it’s not rare to see some trash. This could mean a taxi driver offering you an umbrella in the rain, a stranger offering to help when you’re lost (and walking you well out of their way until they’ve made sure you’ve reached your destination), or another touching surprise along the way. It does. Japan has dozens of unique garden styles that are tied to other elements of Japanese culture such as Buddhism, Tea Ceremony and Japanese aesthetics. Japanese culture is quite complex and full of mysteries. As I started out of the taxi, the driver stopped me. This isolation lasted about 250 years, and allowed the unique Japanese culture, traditions and arts to develop without western influence. I was exhausted following the flight from New York, and a little overwhelmed by my new surroundings. Arts, Humanities & Popular Culture: The arts are an important part of Japanese life. https://iwillteachyoualanguage.com/.../japanese-culture-for-foreigners These include One of the best things about Japan – and an unexpected highlight for so many travelers – is how beautifully and efficiently everything works. In an ancient city like Kyoto, it is still easy to find generations-old shops with hundreds of years of history (many of which are featured in the excellent Old Kyoto), where traditional crafts — or in the case of cuisine, dishes — have been steadily perfected for longer than the United States has been a country. Even in an ultra-modern metropolis like Tokyo, it’s easy to slip into the past with a walk in the backstreets of the old-fashioned shitamachi district (notably in the well-preserved Yanaka and greater Yanesen area), or by decompressing at one of the city’s countless Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, stroll gardens, or neighborhood sento (bathhouses). In Japan, it’s not an exaggeration to say that almost everyone is out to help you. While Japan is mainly a secular society, the country’s Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines still play a role in everyday life. It’s the kind of country where kids can walk and take the subway by themselves to school. Particularly since the Edo Period, Japan has undergone incredible transformations — with major events including the Meiji Restoration and World War II — and, despite the post-bubble economic stagnation, remains an economic and cultural powerhouse. Traditional Japanese gardens come in all shapes and sizes, and they are often designed according to time-honored aesthetic principles. As night fell and the early spring chill began to envelop us, we packed up and retreated to a cozy neighborhood izakaya to warm up over sake and small dishes of vegetables, seafood and grilled meats. Not that I ever felt real danger in New York, but it turned out that I had never fully grasped just how on alert my default way of being had been until, a few weeks after my move to Tokyo (a city much larger and more populous than New York), I felt my “guard” dissipating, apparently having received sufficient evidence in the lack of threats that it was no longer necessary. A lot of restaurants have started to implement vending machines as … Simple. But he was having none of it. Japanese people are extremely gracious hosts, and – famously – will often go out of their way to ensure that you have a wonderful experience during your visit. They host festivals, markets, weddings and other social activities that help bring their communities together. It is seen as a sign of hard work and commitment. While the country certainly modernized much more quickly than lovers of old Japan (such as the illustrious Alex Kerr) would have liked, Japan — despite its striking modernity — nevertheless retains a rich and enviable cultural heritage that even today feels very alive and relevant. An enduring cliché about Japan is that the old and traditional coexist harmoniously with the modern and futuristic. It’s typically made with fresh seasonal ingredients, and color, taste, presentation, and health are all carefully considered. A reasonably short walk from hyperactive Shibuya, there is perhaps nowhere more magical in hanami (cherry blossom viewing) season than the tree-lined canal in the trendy yet laid-back Naka-Meguro. But after moving back to the US, I found I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and ultimately Boutique Japan was born. Thinking of using the Japan rail Pass during your trip to Japan Nippon. 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